A group of golf travel writers were fortunate to travel to Myrtle Beach before heading over to Augusta for The Masters. One of the perks of this job is that I was chosen to be on this trip to write about one of my favorite golf destinations in the world.
Chris King, representing Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, the non-profit trade association comprised of 65 championship golf courses and 99 golf package providers in the Myrtle Beach area, was our host for these three days of golf. King came out with a statement that got us thinking—“Myrtle Beach might not have a course with the pizzazz of Pinehurst #2, but I’d stack up our 2-10 courses with any other top courses in another area of the country,” said King one evening while we were out to dinner.
The group of veteran golfer writers paused to consider the statement. Our conclusion was that King was correct. It certainly helped that we had just played Tidewater GC in North Myrtle Beach, the Dye Course at Barefoot Landing also in North Myrtle Beach and Caledonia in Pawley’s Island. These three courses would certainly stand up to any other region in the country with the exception of Bandon, Oregon, but it’s too difficult to get there, and it’s sure a long distance from Augusta and the water is a little colder than the beautiful 60 mile Grand Strand.
Tidewater was our first stop. We’ve written about Tidewater often, as it is one of our favorites. The course sits between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Cherry Grove inlet that meanders right to the ocean that you see from the 13th hole.
The third hole might be one of the best par 3’s on the Grand Strand as the postage stamp green juts out into that inlet. “There is not a bad hole on this course,” said David Cowx, a golf writer from Canada. It is not hyperbole. The course has added a combo set of tees to get to 6,031 yards that was just right for us older guys.
Our next stop was the Dye Course at Barefoot Landing. The Barefoot Landing area has four courses with four famous architects, Pete Dye, Davis Love, Tom Fazio and Greg Norman. The owners created this huge space to build on by constructing a multi-million dollar bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway to land that was formerly unused.
In typical Dye fashion, there were many railroad ties and holes that seemed to be going at angles that fooled the eye, but the course is excellent. While we were there the grounds crew was grooming the course for “Monday after the Masters” hosted by Hootie and the Blowfish that attracts thousands of spectators any many of the top professionals.
Our favorite holes were the very long par 3 15th and the par 5 18th that curves around a lake. Since we were able to play quickly, we had time to play nine holes at the Love course that has many interesting holes including the par 5 13th that gives you two fairways to choose from with a creek in the middle.
The last stop was at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club (the Fish Club is private, so don’t pack your rod and reels). Caledonia has been this writer’s favorite since I first played it in the 1980’s. Just the ¼ mile ride down the entrance with tall oaks with Spanish moss lining each side of the road is a treat for the eyes.
The land was once a working southern rice plantation, and you can still see the tall grass and water trails just to the north of the antebellum clubhouse and 18th hole. There are no houses close to the course and the flowers, flowering trees and ornamental grasses throughout the property give the course a true “walk in the park” feel. Pictured is the 18th hole’s second shot across a pond to that wonderful clubhouse. There might not be a better place to watch golfers, with a libation in your hand, while you sit in the rocking chairs. The sister course, True Blue is just around the corner and was rated 63rd in Golfweek’s 2017 Top 100 Resort Courses.
Back to the excellent courses we did not play. The Dunes Club is private, but is now available on some packages. This course hosted the Champions Tour final event for many years and is always rated in the Top 25 courses in the country.
Mystical Golf has three excellent courses in The Witch, Man-O-War and The Wizard; the Legends Resort has three courses on property (Moorland, Heathland and Parkland) and also represents Oyster Bay and Heritage that we have written about in the past.
Arnold Palmer’s Kings North is always rated among the top courses in the area, and TPC Myrtle Beach has also hosted Champions Tour events. Pine Lakes was the first course in Myrtle Beach, and the “Granddaddy” as it is called is an excellent track.
After spending most of the evening talking about so many great courses in the Myrtle Beach area, the consensus was that Myrtle Beach golf courses match up well with any destination in the country. And, the best part is that is so easy to get to and very affordable, with amenities for everyone in the family, not just the golfers.
Bruce Vittner is a member of the Golf Writers of America, the Golf Travel Writers of America and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.